Scott Willis

Host, Reporter, Producer

I’ve always been enamored with the intimacy of radio.  It’s so personal.  It forces you to listen…and listen only.  No visual distractions.  I grew up listening to mostly top 40 radio in Detroit, with no shortage of entertaining DJ’s.  As a teenager, I discovered the area’s all news station.  I loved knowing what was going on, and the intensity with which they told stories.  I often wondered what it would be like to be the first to know what was happening, and then tell others.  Maybe that’s why I pursued a career in news. 

I would go on to serve as an intern at that all-news station, and it was amazing and maybe a little overwhelming to see what it took to put out a constant stream of news.  But something was missing.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually discovered Detroit’s public radio station at my alma mater.  What a difference!  You had time to write and tell engaging, meaningful stories, to be creative, all without the pressure to constantly crank out the news.  Quality over quantity.  That’s when I knew public radio was for me.  I was hooked.

I would hone my skills on and off for almost three years at WDET as an intern under the tutelage of a patient Assistant News Director. I produced daily stories for newscasts, but also was given the privilege of producing long-form features on topics that interested me, and that people knew very little about.  Now THAT was cool.  Right up my alley.  What budding reporter could ask for more?

I landed here in Syracuse in June 2001.  Today, I’ve come full circle, and now teach the craft to more than a dozen student reporters per week.  We work hard to choose informative stories, find the most engaging sound, and edit copy for clarity and accuracy. 

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and little boy.  We like to take walks, travel, and read.  When I can, I’ll hop on my bike for a quick ride.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the honor and privilege of bringing WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners the news of the day during All Things Considered.  Thanks for listening.

Ways to Connect

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse common councilors have an idea that could ease the burden on hundreds of homeowners who will be required to purchase expensive flood insurance starting next week.  

Councilors say residents have told them they’ll have to sell their homes and move because they’ll  no longer be able to afford their mortgage payments once flood insurance is added to the bill.  Council President Van Robinson worries no one will want to buy these homes.

After several years of budget surpluses, New York State tax revenue is coming in at a lower than expected rate. That could impact big ticket programs like school aid and health care as well as a multi-year tax cut planned by Governor Cuomo and legislators.  

Collections of income taxes are down nearly three quarters of a billion dollars from what was projected by Governor Cuomo’s division of the budget back in April, at the start of the state’s fiscal year.

John Smith / WAER News

If she’s elected to the New York State Assembly, Democrat Diane Dwire says she will focus on confronting the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping the country.  She notes how the problem of addiction is clear in the four counties covered by the 126th district, and across the nation as well.

They’re already caught in this prison of addiction and I really like that because I think that’s a good symbol,” She says.  “It’s a prison of addiction and we need to help them to get on the path of recovery.”  

WISE Center Celebrates a Decade of Putting Women in Business

Oct 17, 2016
John Smith / WAER News

A business center dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs has come a long way in the past decade. The WISE center at SU’s Whitman School of Management celebrated its 10th anniversary Monday.  

We started out as a little tiny office and now we have a 1,000 square feet ready for people that are willing to put the work in to becoming a women owned business,” said center director Joanne Lenweaver.                      

Members of various Syracuse-area environmental groups gathered today to create a list of questions and issues they’d like to see addressed by the 24th district congressional candidates.  They plan to forward them to the five media outlets hosting debates leading up to election day. 

Olivia Green is a water resource specialist with the Atlantic States Legal Foundation.  She wants to know where John Katko and Colleen Deacon stand when it comes to non-point source pollution. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

More than 100 advocates for those with developmental disabilities filled a hall at the Onondaga County War Memorial Thursday calling for increased wages for direct care providers.   The agencies that employ the workers are funded almost entirely by Medicaid, and haven’t seen a funding increase in eight years.  Despite earning about 10 dollars an hour, most providers say the work is rewarding.  Rayven Pearsall is a direct care provider with Arc of Onondaga.

Scott Willis / WAER News

About two dozen health services providers and other Syracuse-area stakeholders gathered Wednesday to discuss strategies to make hepatitis C screening and care more of a priority in New York State.  About 200,000 New Yorkers are living with chronic hepatitis C, and half of those infected are unaware of their status. Policy analyst at the grassroots group VOCAL-NY Clifton Garmon says the state needs to know hepatitis Cis a problem.

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

The beleaguered head of SUNY’s Polytechnic Institute, Alain Kaloyeros, formally resigned from his post Tuesday, after being placed on leave without pay following criminal charges from state and federal officials.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County lawmakers Tuesday approved what is probably one of the more difficult budgets they’ve seen in several years.  Ways and Means Committee Chair David Knapp says he entered the budget process last month with low expectations.

"If you asked me back in September if we would be able to get to where we are now, I would have been very pessimistic," he admitted.

He says  the $1.29 billion spending plan had challenges from both the cost and revenue sides….

Scott Willis / WAER News

Seasoned journalists from the front lines of the Syrian conflict told an audience at Syracuse University Thursday that the media has fallen short on how it chooses to cover the humanitarian crisis.  Sherine Tadros spent most of her career as a Middle East correspondent for Al Jazeera English, and now serves as head of the UN office of Amnesty International.  She recalls reporting from Turkey as refugees arrived.